Elf is a well-loved film about a man who thinks he’s a Christmas elf. If you know the movie, you are probably smiling right now. If not, then you are shaking your head and wondering where this is going. Stay with me for a bit, I’ll explain.
There is a point in the film where Buddy, the man-elf, bursts into a business meeting at a publishing company. At that meeting, he unfortunately and unknowingly, but also humorously,insults a well-known creator of children’s books.
As the man gets angrier and angrier, Buddy makes the understatement of the movie “He’s an angry elf!”
Today I’m an angry elf. I was on the subway in Boston enjoying the sounds of languages from around the world. I recognized Haitian, Hindi, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, Arabic, and English. These are not tones or sounds that alienate me. Instead, I feel completely at home. I am not intimidated and I don’t care that I don’t understand – though I do try and follow the conversations in Arabic and Hindi.
So I decided to put my happy feelings onto that both hated and loved medium – Facebook. I wrote this:
Sitting on the subway in Boston listening to conversations all around me in Hindi, Mandarin, Spanish, Arabic, Haitian, and English. This is America.
It was a happy, what I thought was a non-political post. But in our world of divisions and politics, it wasn’t perceived the way I intended. Instead, someone questioned the legality of the people on the subway — those that I was listening to.
And – whether right or wrong – I felt angry. Then, the angrier I got, the more I found to be angry about.
My friends – I am an angry elf.
I have written below a “Woe to us” piece. I say ‘us’ because for every sin I see in others, I have five more. There are times when I think I should be silent and shut up; times when I need to sit back and pray more. And right after I publish this piece? That will be a time when I need to sit back and pray more. But right now, I need to speak up.
Woe to us who support foreign missions and pray for those across the sea, but don’t invite those who are foreign to share our bread and drink our tea.
Woe to us who think that our skin color gives us a special dispensation of grace.
Woe to us who spend money on Angel Tree and Christmas Boxes, and yet hate the people who receive them.
Woe to us who defend evil and dress it in riches and expensive clothing.
Woe to us who make our nations and leaders into gods and idols, and bow and pledge our souls to those idols.
Woe to us who hold truth in our hearts, but never hold it up as a mirror to convict us.
Woe to us who grow fat with with the Word, while others are starving.
Woe to us – when we withhold grace, when we bask in self-righteousness, when we see ourselves as better than others.
Woe to me – the angry elf. For I must repent. And I don’t want to.
May God save us from ourselves.
And a Happy U.S. Thanksgiving.
To add a lighter note – my friend Karen reminded me of some of the best lines in the film.
“We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup.”
“This place reminds me of Santa’s Workshop! Except it smells like mushrooms and everyone looks like they want to hurt me.”